By Senior Airman Dilia DeGrego, Joint Task Force 82 Public AffairsSeptember 12, 2007
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Combined Joint Task Force 82, Sept. 13, 2007) - Through an inter-agency cooperation effort, explosive ordnance disposal professionals are training personnel on counter-IED tactics. The students are passing on their knowledge to others in an effort to reduce casualties.
Led by members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and a member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 20 servicemembers graduated from the Military Post-blast Investigative Course class here Aug. 31.
Students took part in classroom and field training throughout the training. In the classroom, students learned about collecting post-blast evidence and its importance in determining the cause of an explosion, the location of the explosion and how they can prevent future IED threats with their findings. Students also learned the basics of explosives, how certain explosives react and the chemical make-up of different kinds of explosives. During the field portion of the course, instructors used live explosives to teach students the effects of various types of explosives on a variety of containers, to include a vehicle, fire extinguisher and pressure cooker, and allowed students to engage in hands-on post-blast evidence collection.
"For a long time it was thought that the war on terrorism was just a Department of Defense fight, but it's more than just a DoD fight, it's a national fight," said Army Lt. Col. Nicholas Scopellite, an engineering officer overseeing the course. "Utilizing all elements of national power focusing on the counter-IED fight is phenomenal, and that's what we are doing now. It's phenomenal because we have state, federal and DoD all working together. All the elements of national power can have a role to play and can assist us.
"Everyone is getting together in the counter-IED world because even though the IEDs are here in Afghanistan and Iraq, eventually, just like terrorism, it's going to come over to the homeland," he said. "So, it's very important to get ahead of it now so our wives, children, brothers, sisters, etc. back home are all taken care of."
The five-day training is the first of its kind here and is as a result of efforts by the Joint IED Defeat Organization, U.S. Central Command and many other non-DoD agencies. They all have a single goal - to always be one step ahead of the terrorists.
"This training is a continuation of the joint state, local and federal partnerships we do back home in effects of training, response and sharing of information," said Sgt. Ron Humbert, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Bomb Squad Commander and course instructor. "This is a great opportunity to come over here and share the partnership we have with the state and federal authorities and bring a third partner in, that being coalition forces. I think we bring training ideas to the table that the military maybe hasn't seen yet or hasn't perfected."
The course is a continuation to the variety of counter-IED training that the students receive prior to deploying, with the goal of being one step ahead of the enemy, said Sgt. Maj. Robert Priest, senior enlisted engineer overseeing the course.
"The warfighter today in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting a street fight because of some of the tactics that are used," said Jeff Groh, ATF Explosives Training Branch and course instructor. "As U.S. law enforcement officers, we street-fight with criminals every day and as a result, we are trying to share that knowledge with our warfighters so they can put the warfighting and streetfighting together in some combination and can reduce or eliminate the risk of that threat."
In addition to teaching, course instructors said that they too learned a lot during the training.
"Through this training, we received intelligence that can further assist us in future problems in the United States," said Jon Mitchell, ATF Explosives Training Branch and course instructor.
"It's a two-way street," added Mr. Groh. "We expose the military to our training tactics and procedures as it relates to criminal activity. The military exposes us to what they see intelligence-wise. Through this training, we are able to learn what is going on in the area of responsibility so that if it does show up in the United States, we can better respond to that. By us giving the military some of our background in the explosives field and in investigating explosives crime, it will help the military get a better handle on how to eliminate threats here."
In the future, each agency hopes to continue to develop the Military Post-blast Investigative Course and return to Afghanistan to continue sharing their counter-IED knowledge with military members, as well as continue learning from each other.